If the Cardinals are going to win tonight, they will have to mount a more impressive comeback than Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals. Which is to say the odds are pretty long.
The Giants plated five runs in the bottom of the third inning to chase Kyle Lohse from the game and grab a 7-0 lead.
Marco Scutaro led off the third inning with a single before Pablo Sandoval doubled to left and Buster Posey drew a walk to load the bases. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny then pulled Lohse from the game and brought in Joe Kelly to face Hunter Pence. Pence followed with a bizarre broken-bat double which had enough spin on it to completely fool shortstop Pete Kozma. Jon Jay had trouble picking the ball up in center field, so all three baserunners came around to score. But the Giants were just getting started.
Kelly then gave up a single to Brandon Belt and walked Gregor Blanco to load the bases before Brandon Crawford hit a ground ball at Kozma, who decided to throw home rather than go for the out at first base. However, the throw was too late. Kelly managed to strike out Matt Cain for the first out and induced a would-be double play ground ball from Angel Pagan, but Kozma made a high throw to Daniel Descalso which caused a late throw to first base and allowed another run to score. This was not Kozma’s finest hour.
Kelly walked Scutaro before being replaced by Edward Mujica, who finally ended the marathon 30-minute frame by getting Pablo Sandoval to line out to first base. The Giants sent 11 men to the plate in the inning and have handed a commanding lead to Cain in Game 7. The Tigers await the winner.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.